The Iranian Highlands:

Resiliences and Integration in Pre-modern Societies

A cooperation among the DFG, RICHT/ICAR and MCTH
Funded in the framework of the DFG-SPP 2176

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Tracking the Mongol Presence in Iran: Seasonal Routes of Migration and Building Activities

Applicants Professorin Dr. Birgitt Hoffmann
Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Fakultät Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften
Lehrstuhl für Iranistik
Professor Dr. Lorenz Korn
Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Fakultät Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften
Lehrstuhl für Islamische Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie
Subject Area Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Islamic Studies, Arabian Studies, Semitic Studies
Term since 2019
Project identifier: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - Projekt number 424142753

Project Description

The Ilkhanid dynasty (c. 1256-1335), founded by Chingiz Khan’s grandson Hülegü, had a deep and long-lasting impact on the political, social, demographic and cultural condition of Iran. For the first time after the Islamic conquest in the 7th century, Iran regained the status of a distinct political-territorial entity. The Ilkhanid polity was encircled by hostile neighbors (Mamluks, the Mongol rulers of the Golden Horde and of the Ulus Chaghatay) – a situation that resulted in territorial confinement. The influx and permanent stay of a great mass of Mongols and Turks of pastoral nomad background into a habitat characterized by agriculture and sedentariness meant a considerable challenge for the conquerors and the conquered alike. Entanglement between Mongol and Iranian elites was the result. Therefore phenomena and processes of resilience and integration can be observed on both sides. For maintenance of their nomadic lifestyle the Mongols had to concentrate in areas favorable to pastoral nomadism, i.e. the northern and northwestern territories of the Iranian highland. The Iranian administrative elite were constantly on the move together with the center of power, the royal encampment (ordu). The Ilkhanid rulers turned out to be passionate builders. They commissioned buildings alongside their seasonal routes of migration and initiated urban development or even the founding of new cities – directly as patrons or indirectly via their Iranian administrators. In the wake of earthquakes, war and deliberate demolition only few architectural or archaeological remnants of the Mongol period are still visible. This situation is aggravated by the fact that Iranian research has rarely considered the Mongol period a rewarding topic.For a better understanding of spatial concepts, patterns of migration and urban development our transdisciplinary project will evaluate textual and archaeological evidence. Spotting and mapping the routes of migration and the sites of seasonal dwellings into a geo-dated map is a first objective of the project. The resulting map will be used as a basis for selective field research. One promising site is the vicinity of Bustanabad (60 km SE Tabriz), which preliminary soundings suggest as the location of the important seasonal residence of Ujan. Mongol agency in urban development is also reflected in the narrative and documentary sources of the period. In Tabriz, archaeological exploration of one of the largest pious foundation complexes of the period, the Rabʿ-i Rashīdī, is under way in a German-Iranian project. In this case, too, textual and archaeological evidence complement each other. The present application aims at expanding and supplementing the ongoing project, with excavations in three campaigns. Again, the creation of a geo-dated map based on textual sources and physical data will guide further archaeological field work.